Logistics with Purpose
Episode 83

We are trying to treat people the way we'd want to be treated, with a high quality piece of clothing or a high-quality water bottle. We want to arm them with products so they can go out into the world and feel proud of themselves. We're really grateful that we have that ability to do so.

- Ben Grossman Co-President of Grossman Marketing Group, Founder of SwagCycle

Episode Summary

Companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars on ‘swag’ or promotional merchandise every year, but what happens when they change their logo or go through an acquisition? Swag Cycle helps companies repurpose and recycle items in a responsible, ethical, and affordable way, keeping unneeded swag out of landfills.

In this episode of Logistics with Purpose, Kristi Porter and Luisa Garcia are joined by Ben Grossman, Co-President of Grossman Marketing Group and Founder of SwagCycle. Prior to assuming his current position, he was the director of his firm’s Green Marketing & Sustainability Practice and he founded SwagCycle in 2019, for which he received the 2022 Bess Cohn Humanitarian of the Year award from the Advertising Specialty Institute. Listen in as he talks about his unique professional journey.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to Logistics with Purpose presented by Vector Global Logistics in partnership with Supply chain. Now we spotlight and celebrate organizations who are dedicated to creating a positive impact. Join us for this behind the scenes glimpse of the origin stories change, making progress and future plans of organizations who are actively making a difference. Our goal isn’t just to entertain you, but to inspire you to go out and change the world. And now here’s today’s episode of Logistics With Purpose.

Kristi Porter (00:35):

Hello and welcome again to another terrific episode of The Logistics with Purpose podcast presented by Vector Global Logistics in supply chain. Now we are thrilled to talk with today’s guest. I’m also doubly thrilled because this is my teammate valued colleague Luisa. This is her first time co-hosting the an episode with us. So Luisa, good morning. Welcome. Hello, I’m so glad to be here with you.

Luisa Garcia (01:01):

Thank you, Christie. Yeah, I’m so excited to, to be here and well, first of all, because as you mentioned, I’m co-hosting this interview with you, but mainly because we have an amazing guest today, I’m happy to welcome to the show to Ben Rossman, co-president of Grossman Marketing Group, and founder at Slack Cycle. Welcome, Ben. How are you doing today? Welcome.

Ben Grossman (01:22):

I’m doing great. Luisa and Christie. Thank you so much for having me.

Kristi Porter (01:26):

Absolutely. We’re thrilled for you to be here.

Luisa Garcia (01:28):

Yeah. To start us up, Ben, please tell us a little about where you grew up and about yourself, your childhood.

Ben Grossman (01:36):

So I grew up in the Boston area. I’m the middle child of three boys, so I have an older brother who is my business partner and a younger brother as well, who were all super close. Eventually, after having some experience outside of the business, I joined a family business. So I grew up around a family business gross and marketing group, which today is a fourth generation family company. And getting exposed to the business, coming in on Saturdays with my dad. My grandfather who’s alive at the time, was active in the business. And then my aunts and my grandmother were involved in the business too. Oh, one of my aunts is still involved in the business. And so coming in and experiencing and seeing what it was like to work in a family business that was reasonably successful and where the family relationships were pretty harmonious, especially relatively speaking to other family businesses. And I grew up, I always enjoyed business. I enjoyed trying to be creative and starting things and loved sports. And we got exposed early on to philanthropy and community activism, both through the company as well as just through our family. And it was ingrained in us the importance of giving back to the community in which we live both locally as well as globally. And that’s sort of the, some of the inspiration that’s that that I’ve drawn on to work on some of the initiatives like Swag cycle.

Kristi Porter (03:01):

That’s fantastic. I’m curious too about the philanthropy aspect. Was that something that was ingrained fourth generation business is pretty remarkable? And to have your family just so involved in every aspect and as you mentioned, for them to get along so well, was the philanthropy aspect. Was that early on? Was that from the beginning of the business? Did that come later?

Ben Grossman (03:21):

So it was both philanthropy as well as being active in the community. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in some way, shape or form. And we learned that from our parents and our grandparents. There’s a really interesting piece that we found in our archives that the family that the company sent out the day after Pearl, the Pearl Harbor bombing. So Wow. So the Pearl Harbor bombing was December 7th, 1941. And this piece went out December 8th, and it was to announce that the founder of the family business, my grand, my great-grandfather, max Grossman, was leaving the business to become what was called a dollar a year man under President Franklin Roosevelt to take his skillset to work in the Office of Price Administration to help ration pay for supplies across the United States. So he was leaving his job to devote his efforts full-time for a dollar a year. It was a program designed for business leaders around the country who were too old to serve in armed combat, but wanted to devote their experience to helping the war effort.

Ben Grossman (04:28):

Also, my grandfather, Edgar, who was at the bus, who was in the business at the time, also in the, in that letter, it was being announced that he was enlisting and he ended up serving as an officer in World War ii. And the letter, it ended and it both started and ended with this phrase, we are proud of the company we keep, and it talked about being active to give back to the world, both locally as well as globally. And that’s the inspiration that we, that we’ve drawn on. Our father, Steve, who ran the business for 35 years, we were in business with him. And then he decided during the financial crisis to run for state treasurer of Massachusetts, the election was in 2010, and he was elected with bipartisan support to take his skillset in business to try to help shore up the finances in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Ben Grossman (05:23):

And when he won, we actually sent a piece of direct mail to all of our entire database, our customers, our prospects, our suppliers, and any other special friends. And it was both a letter announcing he was departing, but it was also a copy of that letter from 70 years prior. Wow. And said something like, like in 1941, we are proud of the company we keep and explaining what our father was going on to do and how my brother and I were going to take the mantle on to become stewards of this business, not lose sight of the values that got us here, both in terms of how we treat our employees, how we service our customers, and how we’re involved in the community to take the company forward.

Kristi Porter (06:06):

That’s remarkable. Yeah. What an incredible history and lineage.

Ben Grossman (06:10):

Thank you.

Kristi Porter (06:11):

A lot to be proud of.

Luisa Garcia (06:13):

Yes. And as you mentioned, like through all these generations, uh, combining both business, but not only that, I mean including all these giving, giving back heart, and, and in your woman experience you have be following that, that from your great great grandfather and following that. So that’s amazing. And well, you’re a Princeton University graduate and also you hold an MBA from Columbia Business School, both Ivy League institutions, which is really impressive. Please, could you tell us a little bit more about your educational or life lessons as you, during this season in your life?

Ben Grossman (06:57):

I was incredibly fortunate to be able to go to those institutions, the, just the friends I, the relationships that I, that built over the years have stayed with me, getting exposed to that incredible talent from around the globe and having to compete in a friendly way, but compete with those incredibly talented individuals and learn and more importantly, learn from them. Learn about their backgrounds, learn about their upbringings, which were certainly different than mine. What their values were, what they wanted to do, what their aspirations were, and just trying to think more of in a global mindset rather than a, a local mindset. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so, again, I was very fortunate to go to those institutions and I tried my best to take advantage of the resources that I was exposed to by working really hard. You get a, a limited amount of time to be a full-time student and it’s an incredible privilege.

Ben Grossman (07:53):

And I tried to recognize that. I actually think that when I went back to business school after having worked in strategy consulting after graduating from Princeton, I actually think that I took that to heart and more in terms of appreciating what I had after having left college in sort of the safe confines of college and going into a workplace where you have to, you’re responsible for deliverables and going to meetings and servicing a client and servicing and, and communicating with your boss and all of the things that are required to succeed in a large corporate environment. Then going back and going to Columbia Business School, I approached it, I think with a little bit more discipline mm-hmm. <affirmative> and with more mindfulness that this was a very special situation that I was in and I wanted to do everything I could to squeeze everything out of that experience and not take it for granted.

Kristi Porter (08:54):

Mark really smart. Well, for those who haven’t caught on yet, the three of us are in marketing. Let’s point that out. We’re all very proud to be marketers. So going to both the Princeton and Columbia, you studied, you didn’t study marketing, but you’ve talked a little bit about your family. So what led the transition to it’s time to join the marketing family business rather than one of your, that you thought was gonna be maybe your career path? Cause I think you studied history maybe at Princeton and then business at Columbia.

Ben Grossman (09:25):

When I was in college, I actually started and sold a small company with a really close friend. Actually, that really close friend introduced me to my wife, so I owe him big. Yeah. But we had this idea for a, it was like a T-shirt slogan, it was called Live Big. And it was almost like a, there was a brand back then called No Fear and Life is Good was just starting. And we actually got our products into 15 stores in six states. Wow. When we were in college. And this was, we built an online store before tools like Shopify existed. Yeah. Uh, we took orders online before. That was a simple process. Yeah. It was actually incredibly hard to do. What we learned about though was fulfilling orders, generating sales. That was so valuable, such a valuable experience to get to go and generate sales from scratch.

Ben Grossman (10:21):

Take your ideas, see what worked, see what didn’t iterate. And it was really fun to do something entrepreneurial. So I always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and have some semblance of control over my career when I, so this was while I was at Princeton, I was also just interested in business in general. That’s why I went into strategy consulting. Sure. I was with a strategy unit at IBM m that worked both internally as well as externally. And then I decided that I wanted to go to business school because although I had some business experience, both in a small entrepreneurial setting, we ended up selling that business actually after college to a company that wanted to own our assets and own that slogan and make that their corporate slogan. It was a large company that bought us, although we had some experience in an entrepreneurial setting, as well as I had some experience in consulting.

Ben Grossman (11:12):

I had never studied business, I had never studied finance, I had never taken corporate finance. I didn’t really understand what a balance sheet was, what an income statement was. I hadn’t taken marketing or other types of entrepreneurship classes. And I was very fortunate to be admitted to Columbia Business School. And I just, I tried to take ev take advantage of every opportunity there. While I was at Columbia, I was really interested in potentially joining my family business, but I was also interested in other endeavors. And I tried to expose myself to a number of different, of avenues. Investment management, venture capital did internships in both as well as a potential startup. Ultimately, I was most passionate about joining my family business, which at the time when I graduated business school was a fourth generation, 96 year old family business. Incredible. My brother David was my older brother.

Ben Grossman (12:07):

David was already in the business working with our father, and it sounded really exciting and the business was at this turning point where it had, it was started in 1910 as a company called Massachusetts Envelope Company. And for the first seven years of our existence, from probably 1910 to 1980, visually a regional envelope printer and distributor. And then under our father’s leadership, working in partnership with our grandfather, it grew into other markets, other product lines, other types of printing forms, et cetera. And then what really supercharged the growth was getting into the branded merchandise space, what we call swag. When I joined the business in 2006, only about 10 to 15% of the revenue of our business was derived from swag. Now it’s the overwhelming majority of the business. And when I joined the company, I knew that I had to do a little bit of everything.

Ben Grossman (13:08):

I got some great advice from an alum of Columbia Business School before in a, in an in-class project with a professor Frank Flynn, who’s now at Stanford Business School. And I interviewed a number of alums to find out how I could be most successful in my, in a family business setting. And I interviewed alumni who had gone into their family businesses and had achieved some varying levels of success. And one of the best pieces of advice I got from someone was try to find a way to generate revenue. Because if you do, no one can ever question your existence in your family business. You’re not just there cuz of your last name, but you were generating gross profit. You were generating sales, which helped to protect people’s jobs and help the business grow. So I took that advice to heart, and I’m really proud of the fact that almost 17 years later, I’ve never cost the company a dime.

Ben Grossman (14:00):

I’ve always generated more gross profit than I’ve ever crossed the company. Starting on day one, I started getting orders about a month in from my network. And so I did a lot of focus on sales, but also corporate strategy. We’ve done a number of acquisitions of other businesses. That’s something that I generally spearhead. The, the cultivation of those, the lead generation of opportunities, the cultivation of those relationships, and then the negotiation and integration. I really love that, that aspect of business and of m and a. My brother and I run the business and we split our responsibilities. Well, he’s more creative, he’s more touchy-feely. But we have a great, we have a great partnership and we balance each other out quite well.

Kristi Porter (14:45):

I, I wanna ask you really quickly about the fact that you just took an upon yourself to go interview people who were part of family businesses. I feel like even that’s something that I wanted to highlight per a minute, because you’re sort of just like, oh, this is what anybody would do. That’s sort of the way it came outta your mouth. But that’s not the truth. So what, what kind of made you wanna go and do that? Because I feel like no matter what position you’re in, that’s a lesson that anybody could learn. Go find a mentor, whether it’s a mentor of a one time thing or an ongoing thing, but to be able to learn from the lessons of others rather than, let me just figure it out on my own without any experience. But I’m just curious what your thought process is and why you decided to do that.

Ben Grossman (15:29):

Well, I have to give credit to the professor who I mentioned Frank Flynn, who’s now at Stanford. But at the time, I was in his class, it was the spring of my second year, my final year in business school. And it was a course called Power and Influence. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the final project, you were tasked with interviewing people who were in the workplace. You were going into alumni of Columbia, so if you were going to be an investment banker at JP Morgan, you would interview other alums who had gone to do that. My project was a little bit different because I was going into a family business that didn’t, it wasn’t full of Columbia Business School graduates, so to speak. Yeah. And so I had to create this project and find alums to interview. And those were incredibly powerful conversations. I wasn’t a novice at interview.

Ben Grossman (16:20):

I did journalism starting freshman year in high school. And I ended up being the managing editor of the Daily Princetonian at Princeton, managing a newsroom of more than 50 reporters and putting out a newspaper every single day. I was responsible for with my editorial board. So I’d done a lot of interviewing people Yeah. Over time and not being afraid to ask questions, because if you don’t ask the question, you’re not going to learn something. And like you said, rather than just going into gross and marketing group and winging it. And thankfully I had some, my brother and my dad and my two aunts were there and my grandmother was still there. So I had some family resources, but it was so helpful to speak to non-family members to find out what was successful, what were some pitfalls, what to avoid, what they recommended, and distilling that down into an in-class paper.

Ben Grossman (17:12):

But I will tell you, I referenced that document Yeah. Many years. And going in, it was almost like a kind of first 90 day guide. A little bit of guidance on how to comport myself guidance on, on what I should do to learn what I should do to build relationships, what I should do to generate sales, or the idea that generating sales above all else would’ve been beneficial for me in my development. Yeah. Most of all is the importance of being humble. One of the things that holds people back, going to family businesses, going to a, building a company with their name on it, or they feel like their name’s on it, is they come in and act like they own the place. It is so important to walk into those situations with humility, with gratitude for what the platform that you have, but also all the work that your family as well as all the non-family, employees and stakeholders have done to get the business to that point.

Ben Grossman (18:16):

And what I’ve learned over time, and what I’ve tried to share when I get interviewed by business school students or other people who are going into their family businesses, is the importance of never, ever take for granted past success does not guarantee future success. And at any business. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if you don’t reinvent yourself and try to be creative in terms of what you’re doing today, how can you improve rather than resting on your laurels, if you don’t take those actions, you will be left behind. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and my brother and I have taken that to heart, tried to take a wonderful platform that we were given, but that without being reinvented, would not have survived. And trying to take leverage the success that we, that the company had and building on that and building from the strong foundation that we were so fortunate to come into. But how could we build on that to help the business continue to be a sustainable enterprise and a sustainable enterprise that might be able to make to the fifth generation, maybe not, we’ll see. But we’re 113 years in now and we’ll optimistic and excited of what the future holds. And what’s been so exciting about the seat that I sit in is in addition to running our business, I’ve been able to take some passions of mine around sustainability and entrepreneurship and work on other initiatives like Swag Cycle, which be thrilled to talk about.

Kristi Porter (19:44):

Yes. Well that is incredible. I wish every student had that as part of their curriculum. That’s really fantastic.

Ben Grossman (19:51):

Thank you.

Kristi Porter (19:51):

And it sounds like it’s something that has just continued to stick with you.

Luisa Garcia (19:55):

Yeah. Yeah. It is. Really. Well, I love to listen to you like how you look up to your family, how you admire them, but also how you build your own path. And I, I would like to know, you were also working on green and sustainable marketing before it was popular as it is now. So you are also a pioneer in your own way. That’s amazing. And what was that attracted you to that specialty?

Ben Grossman (20:24):

Just the recognition that we live in a planet with finite resources. And having seen the statistics that back 15 years ago, there was a lot of argument that global warming wasn’t even, wasn’t even happening. And it was clear that it was clear that it was fact and that it wasn’t fiction and how, and I wanted to think about how we could take our business. This is 15, 16 plus years ago when I started something called a green marketing and sustainability practice at the business, which we received a lot of recognition for locally as well as nationally. We wanted to find ways that we could operate more sustainably and responsibly, but also help our clients do the same. And then drawing from that inspiration came swag cycle, I got involved with an organization, a nonprofit in, it’s a national organization that’s headquartered in Boston called the Product Stewardship Institute.

Ben Grossman (21:22):

And it’s an organization that’s focused on really passing legislation to get producers to be responsible for the full life cycle of their products. Wow. Or like companies like mattress manufacturers, that they can’t just make the mattress, but they need to build pathways that when the mattress has, is no longer useful. That there are ways that people who have mattresses can have those recycled so they don’t just end up in landfills. Having products, going to landfills is the biggest reason. One of the biggest reasons it’s bad is because when products degrade in landfills, they release methane gas. And methane gas is a really, really harmful greenhouse gas to the environment, far more harmful than co2. And so that’s a sci and scientific reason why sending things to landfills is not the answer. There’s a lot of practical reasons too. But in our business I saw we had this lived experience where we worked with companies to help them make a wide array of marketing collateral and branded merchandise, logoed water bottles and t-shirts and backpacks to help them build their brand, help them reward their employees.

Ben Grossman (22:35):

Employees love swag when it’s well done, help them generate sales and a whole host of other benefits to why they, they do swag and why we work with organizations to make them useful, practical, branded products. But what I saw and what our team saw is that when companies rebranded, they changed their logo or there might be an a corporate acquisition, it would leave the high quality branded merchandise to becoming obsolete nearly overnight. And I saw that the path of least resistance for companies was generally just throwing the goods away, throwing them in a landfill. And it wasn’t because those companies didn’t care about the environment, it’s just they didn’t know what to do with ’em. And everyone is so busy, all of our customers that we work with, they’re so busy and they just don’t have the time to figure out where to send these goods to charity, how to recycle those goods, how to upcycle those goods.

Ben Grossman (23:35):

And so the bell went off in, in our minds of, okay, so at four years ago, we came up with this concept in our early 2019, and we saw this challenge of what companies went through. And we wanted to try to figure out a way to build some type of frictionless platform where companies could divest of their goods, either through Char charitable donations or recycling upcycling efforts to leave less of a footprint and potentially create positive social impacts. And so leaning on, there’s a famous book called The Lean Startup by Eric Reese. And the, there’s a concept in the book about building a minimum viable product, trying to get something rather than sit and workshop it for years, try to build something and get it out there and iterate and collect data so you can improve upon that to determine if this business is viable and if not, shut it down and move on.

Ben Grossman (24:38):

And so I drew some inspiration from that book, and we came up with this name Swag Cycle, which we liked. And we designed a logo and built a website. And I personally reached out to a number of nonprofits, we’re headquartered in Boston. So I started locally just where we had some relationships. We’re now global by the way. But we started locally and I personally reached out to some nonprofits that focused on, uh, kids and afterschool programs and homeless shelters and other organizations like that to determine what kinds of products they might need and if they wanted to be charitable partners, a spec cycle. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we hand created a small group of charitable partners and then in addition, did research, did research, and then direct outreach to recycling partners around textiles and apparel and metal and plastic and other types of materials. And so then once we did that, we did a little bit of marketing search engine engine optimization, content marketing, reaching out through our industry and just word of mouth.

Ben Grossman (25:39):

And it took off. And then Covid hit six months later and everything changed then. And for a little while, the inbound traffic for swag cycle really slowed down. Sure. While everyone was collecting themselves. And then about six months into covid, so fall 2020 about, we saw a dramatic uptick in interest. And this was around, there was a lot of m and a activity that happened later that year. And then in 21 and 22. But in addition, a lot of companies started reassessing their real estate needs and finding supply closets full of stuff. Vendor partners of these companies were want made, wanted to downsize their space. They had pallets of old merchandise that was no longer in use. They started reaching out to us. And these weren’t folks in the northeast, these were California, Texas, the United Kingdom, Asia, other elsewhere in Europe, south America, Canada. But then just all around the United States.

Ben Grossman (26:42):

And based on that, we continue to build out our, our charitable and recycling network. As word of mouth grew, we also started hearing from wonderful charitable partners who wanted to become, or wonderful charities who wanted to become partners of swag cycle one. One example was summer of 21. We heard from the Y M C A in Greater Houston. They were responsible for resettling at the time, several hundred families from Afghanistan in the wake of the US polling their troop, our troops out of Afghanistan. Um, several hundred refugee families on special immigrant visas. It ended up being more than a thousand families. But they reached out to me and they said, we need everything. We need clothing for kids, we need clothing for adults. We need long sleeved clothing for women, for religious reasons. We need backpacks for kids and water bottles. We need coffee mugs to outfit the temporary housing for these refugees.

Ben Grossman (27:42):

We need fun light up pool trinkety things for the local teenage youth mentors who come and volunteer their time to help the Afghani youth get acclimated to American society. And so we’ve only done this one time and, and since we launched Swag Cycle, we actually sent a blast to our entire swag cycle database to the companies that are in the database like Donor Partners and said, this is the request from the Y M C A in Greater Houston. This is the challenge they’re facing. If you have any goods to donate, please let us know. We’ll help to facilitate the donation. We heard from several dozen different companies that we helped them facilitate donations. It ended up being several hundred thousand dollars of merchandise. Wow. Incredible. High quality clothing and drinkware and backpacks and that kind of thing. And what we feel is we’re giving dignity to these folks.

Ben Grossman (28:41):

We are trying to treat them the way we’d want to be treated with a high quality piece of clothing, a high quality water bottle, and something else where we want to arm them with products that they can go out into the world and feel proud of themselves. And we’re really grateful that we have that ability to do so. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> another example. We’ve worked with Dress for Success in the past, and Dress for Success is most known for helping women PRI primarily in the inner cities, get back into the workforce. And they’re known for outfitting those, their female participants with professional attire to go to their interviews and go to and go to work in mm-hmm. <affirmative>. We’ve facilitated donations of high quality like moles, skin style notebooks that these women can take to job interviews and feel that that dignity and feel professional writing in a high quality, in a high quality notebook. Right. And, uh, it’s been, it’s been the most meaningful work I’ve ever done, done trying to help take these goods that could otherwise end up in a landfill and getting them to worthy causes where they can make a difference.

Kristi Porter (29:51):

Incredibly clear that you’re passionate about it. I, those are terrific stories and you’ve come a long way in just a few years, especially given the pandemic, which is the asterisk on everything for that all of us do. So I’m curious, I know one of the things, as a marketer, as somebody who’s ordered products like this, I fully understand the need for it. I know one of the things that you’re also passionate about is making it really easy for people to participate. So what are kind of from the company side and from the nonprofit side, what are the couple steps to getting involved

Ben Grossman (30:25):

When a company reaches out and we hear from companies every day, the first question we ask is, what goods do you have? And can they go to charity? Can they live on? Cause our, the best environmental outcome is to have the goods live on and reused. Sure. The best social outcome, of course, is also to get those high quality goods to worthy causes that can make use of, if the answer is no because of brand guidelines, then we can work to potentially recycle or upcycle those good. We’ve done that for a number of companies. The most commonly cited reason that companies want to recycle those goods and have them leave the marketplace is because they don’t want anyone ever impersonating their workers. The largest product category in the swags face is apparel. And so we’ve worked within in-home healthcare organizations as well as like direct to consumer telecom companies that make house calls and they don’t want anyone to ever impersonate their workers and showing up at someone’s house that is saying that they work for their local telephone company.

Ben Grossman (31:30):

And having that lead to something a bad outcome. So, so when, so the first question we ask is, can the goods live on in the marketplace, i e going to charity? If the answer is yes, then we find out a little more where are the, where are the goods? Where do they reside? Are you the donor comfortable with them being donated nearby to cut to, to minimize carbon emissions, to ship those goods? Or do you want them to maybe go to a different geographic area outside of your main kind of territory that sometimes is a request? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then we take an audit of what they have and we send those key details to our charitable partner group. It’s several hundred, uh, nonprofits around the globe. And when we have a good match that we think is appropriate based on all the various parameters, we present that back to the donor.

Ben Grossman (32:21):

And if they approve those goods going to address for success or Y M C A or boys and Girls clubs, or a whole host of others, then we give them the, the logistical information to ship the goods out. We don’t charge for charitable donation matchmaking. We view that that is a public service. The only cost that the donors are responsible for is the shipping cost to get the goods from their wear. Generally their vendor’s warehouse to the charitable partner. So we don’t charge for the service whatsoever. And in fact, if they ship on their shipper number or work, work on that with their vendor partner in the warehouse, no dollars change hands of swag cycle. Where we do charge is for recycling upcycling efforts. And that’s based on different and the cost ranges depending on what the items are and what the quantity is and where they’re located.

Ben Grossman (33:11):

We’ve worked on some very large recycling projects. Worked at a very large technology company where they had about 20 pallets worth of metal water bottles that we were able to recycle. We worked with a very large consumer goods company where they had skids and skids of display materials and peril and other types of products that we’re able to recycle with a really specialty partner of ours. For us, a challenge for us is just building out more of our capabilities. There are some products that you can’t, we can’t really recycle right now, like silicone straws or things like that. And so the goal is I’d like to get to a place where we could recycle a hundred percent of the goods that we come in contact with. We’re not there yet, but it’s an aspirational goal. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,

Luisa Garcia (34:01):

Wow. I’m so delighted to listen to all of the things you do. And it’s so hard coaching for me to know how many people you’re helping with this effort efforts and talking about this efforts. Can you please explain the difference between upcycling and recycling?

Ben Grossman (34:19):

Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So upcycling is generally when you take the products and turn them into something else that is, at least the way I define it, is you take the goods and then turn into something else that might have some other use. So an example is we have a wonderful partner of ours and we’ve helped some people, some companies take their obsolete vinyl banners from trade shows and have those cleaned and cut up and turned into do kits and messenger bags and other products. So I view that as upcycling, whereas we have a really good recycling partner for some of the apparel that we deal with where the apparel gets shredded down and really recycled into insulation material where it’s sort of kind of leaves the consumer marketplace. That’s sort of how I look at it. I think other people have different meanings, but for me, I view upcycling sort of remaining in circulation in some tangible way.

Ben Grossman (35:16):

Whereas recycling is really ground down more to the fiber level, might get recycled in a recycled yarn or other products like that. We’ve also done some really fun things with some textile recycling partners of ours where shirts get shredded and turn into the fill that goes into boxing speed bags, the and boxing bags and even carpet pad fill. And I mentioned insulation materials and car seat fill and mattress fill and things like that. So it’s great because those, there’s industrial uses for those goods, those raw materials, and rather than having them go to landfills, they can at least find some way to live on in some shape or form.

Kristi Porter (35:57):

For sure. You’ve already mentioned some incredible case studies that you’ve done, some stories of how you’ve helped people and how you’re working. We noticed also in your latest impact report that one of your largest projects to date was working with Facebook’s parent company Meta. So tell us specifically about that project.

Ben Grossman (36:17):

Thanks for asking about that. When Facebook rebranding a meta, that’s probably the most famous rebranding effort in recent corporate history, and Facebook reached out to us directly. They had goods sitting in one vendor’s warehouse in the United States and one vendor’s warehouse in the uk. And we asked the same questions, we asked everyone else and they were willing to have the goods live on in the marketplace. They wanted to know where those goods were going and the goods in the us And it was about approximately 20,000 items, but a hundred thousand dollars of value. Some really nice products. Yeah, I mean some vests and apparel and water bottles and backpacks and notebooks and things like that that really are useful and people want. And we facilitated the uk, the UK donation to a UK partner called Giving that we worked with before. And some of those goods actually went to help with like Ukrainian refugee efforts, families coming to the UK and needing to be outfitted with products similar to the, um, the Y M C A example I cited before.

Ben Grossman (37:26):

Um, and then the US based goods were in the southeastern part of the US in Georgia and we actually had those facil, we facilitated that donation to a Georgia based nonprofit partner of ours. So again, minimize carbon emissions in both places in the UK as well as in the us getting them into the local markets and keeping them outta landfills. And then actually since then we’ve worked, we’ve supported Facebook Met on another project through one of their vendor partners. So the first time we worked directly with them, another time worked with one of their vendor partners. And it’s been really rewarding work to again, take these goods that are high quality and get them in the hands of those who need the most.

Kristi Porter (38:12):

Perfect. Thank you for sharing.

Ben Grossman (38:14):

Sure.

Luisa Garcia (38:15):

And what have been one or two challenges with getting SAC Cycle at the ground and why did you learn?

Ben Grossman (38:22):

It’s at early on, it’s slow going. And sometimes in a startup you’re wondering, do people even know that we exist? Do people want this product or service? And the is sticking with it and grinding it out and get, putting yourself and you the company in a position to see, to collect more data, to be able to decide if you want to continue? Thankfully we did, and the data showed that it was a benefit to the community, a benefit to our industry, a benefit to us, and just really rewarding, it makes us feel good that we can leverage our infrastructure to be able to create positive environmental and social outcomes. Another challenge that we’ve had is just what I talked about before, just building out the capabilities so that we can recycle everything. I sometimes feel badly when we get an inquiry and an organization wants the goods to leave the marketplace, and we might not have a good recycling or upcycling avenue for those products like the silicone straws that I mentioned.

Ben Grossman (39:33):

And so a challenge has just been building out that cap capability. So in a my day job at Gross and Marketing Group we’re, it’s almost supply chain management and making goods and delivering a finished product to a client. It in swag cycle, you’re reversing that process. You’re taking those products apart in a responsible way and trying to minimize the amount of waste that goes to a landfill now. And about that, I’ve seen some just incredible statistics, especially around textile and clothing. That clothing and household textiles currently make up more than 6% of the waste stream in the United States, which is actually, there’s a crazy number. It’s about equivalent to 81 pound per person thrown away annually in the us. And that’s both from an industrial as well as in-home perspectives. That’s what drives the numbers up. But that nearly 95% of those clothing and textiles could actually be recycled if they got into the hands of the right partner.

Ben Grossman (40:33):

And so that’s what we’re responsible for, getting the, that, uh, those goods in the hands of the right partners. And we operate in a very partner-based way. We’re a platform. We work with charitable partners. So swag cycle’s not a non-for-profit. It’s a, we’re a corporation, we’re a platform facilitating donations to charitable organizations around the globe. And then we’re also, we then also facilitate the recycling projects with our recycling partners. And we’re much more actively managing those to completion, getting certificates of recycling to our clients when it’s a charitable donation. We don’t view the project as being done until a donation receipt is generated by the nonprofit and gets sent over to the donor.

Kristi Porter (41:18):

Terrific. It’s also, swag cycle is the perfect example of you saw a problem, you created a solution, which is simple to say, but you just explained some of the challenges involved with it. So for people who have, whether they’re entrepreneurs within their own company or extra, and entrepreneurs outside, they wanna start something. A lot of people have a lot of ideas. They don’t necessarily act on them. So what would be your advice for others who see a problem that needs solving to take action

Ben Grossman (41:52):

For those folks, if they see a problem and it’s an informed, you know, they, they’re informed because they might have information about their industry or their business or their customers and they understand there’s a pain point and they wanna address that pain point. Well, they already have that, that now they have some good experience to drop on. So now it’s just a sort of trying to create a quick, you don’t have to create a 30 page business plan. You can just write up almost a to-do list and brainstorm. Okay, what, what do I need to build? Is it software, is it hardware? Is it really a website? Is it some communication? What are the different elements? And trying to experiment. So you don’t, you’re not betting the farm on it, but you’re making thoughtful investments of resources and your time to be able to collect data and get it out to the marketplace, either through perhaps almost mini focus grouping.

Ben Grossman (42:46):

Right. Bringing the idea and what you’re trying to work on to the customers that you think might be helped with the solution to see if they’d be interested. I already knew because I ran a company, I already knew Right. That it would work for us. It would benefit gross and marketing and, and our clients. And in my, in the course of my travels, I did speak to other business owners and other suppliers in our space and end user companies to find out, hey, this platform existed and you were to rebrand. Would it be helpful for you? And generally the answer was, would be, I don’t think people think about it a lot. It’s a very niche focus, but I knew based on our experience that it could provide value. So I’d encourage people if they have an idea to talk to people they think could be helped by their tool or solution to see if there is some interest there in what they’re trying to do.

Luisa Garcia (43:41):

Right. Good advice. Yeah. And finally, what do you hope EL marketers will learn or implement when it comes to sustainability? As we collect collectively try and achieve climate goals for our companies?

Ben Grossman (43:58):

So it’s very clear from all of the research that I see that people want to work for, buy from and invest in socially responsible organizations. So it’s really important that sustainability and being a good corporate citizen is part of the backbone of an organization. If someone just slaps a eco logo on something but they don’t back it up through their corporate actions, that’s greenwashing. And so we highly recommend people don’t greenwash. If you are trying to do things sustainably in your marketing, you need to back it up in all facets of your operations, your real estate operations, your fleet, vehicle management, how you treat your employees, how you ship things, how you generate energy or derive energy, what your manufacturing processes are. If you’re a manufacturer and a whole host of others, I’m only touching on a few, but the key is that it has to be part of your every day. It can’t just be something you say you need to back it up with action.

Luisa Garcia (45:00):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. <laugh>. And how can our listeners connect with you and of course engage with Slack site?

Ben Grossman (45:11):

So Swag Cycle’s website is swag cycle.net. Uh, so we have a contact us form on the site that if someone fills it out, I will see as well members of my team, if someone is interested in reaching out to me personally, they can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, I’m at at bi Grossman, and then my email is ben swag cycle.net.

Kristi Porter (45:32):

Terrific. Do you have any current needs that we can give a shout out to right now? Whether it’s corporate or nonprofit? Do you have anything you’re trying to get rid of or something you wanna suggest? Or maybe one of those recycling partners or something?

Ben Grossman (45:45):

I would certainly be thrilled to hear from recycling partners who can handle like specialized plastics and vinyls and display materials and other types of metal, some metal scrap metal companies can handle, but some that are parts of other products, it’s a little more challenging. So Sure. I’d welcome hearing from Recycling Partners and then charities if they hear about what we’re doing. Um, just like the Y M C A reached out to us. Another example of a wonderful organization that reached out to us directly and we’ve helped them through a number of donations, is an organization called Birthright Foster Closet. They’re in Michigan and they help foster families and they needed a little bit of everything as well. And their, their executive director reached out to me and we’ve built a wonderful partnership. So other charitable partners have needs for things we, I’d love to hear from you Yeah. And them so that we might be able to add them into our network. And then of course, if companies out there, uh, hear that, hear about Swag Cycle are interested in learning more because maybe they’re planning a rebrand mm-hmm. <affirmative> or even brand agent, brand marketing agencies or whatnot who help companies rebrand. If they wanna learn more about Swag Cycle and they think that Swag Cycle could be a useful tool in their toolbox when they work with their clients, I’d be thrilled to talk to them as well.

Kristi Porter (47:07):

Terrific. Yes. We’re hoping more people will reach out to you as well. Yes, I have. I know exactly what we’re talking about when you talk about the closets full of things sitting there, not going to you. So it is a terrific mission. You’ve already had some wonderful successes and hopefully that will continue and we hope that people will pay attention and find more purpose beyond the original use. So thank you Ben, for being here. Thank you for what you’re doing. And thank you to everyone who joined us again for another episode. We look forward to bringing you more stories that are inspiring and encourage you to take action soon. So from all of us here at Vector and Supply Chain now, thanks for another episode of Logistics With Purpose. Thanks, Ben. Thank you both. Really appreciate it.

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Featured Guests

Ben Grossman serves as co-president of Grossman Marketing Group. Prior to assuming this position, he served as the director of his firm’s Green Marketing & Sustainability Practice, which he launched in 2006. Continuing his commitment to sustainability, Ben founded SwagCycle in 2019. For this work, Ben received the 2022 Bess Cohn Humanitarian of the Year award from the Advertising Specialty Institute. Ben is also active in community affairs, serving as co-president of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of Boston as well as on the Product Stewardship Institute Advisory Council. ‍Ben holds a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Prior to Columbia, he worked as a strategy consultant to Fortune 500 clients, and also started and sold a sportswear and marketing firm. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn.

Luisa Garcia is a passionate Marketer from Lagos de Moreno based in Aguascalientes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. She specializes in brand development at any stage, believing that a brand is more than just a name or image—it’s an unforgettable experience. Her expertise helps brands achieve their dreams and aspirations, making a lasting impact. Currently working at Vector Global Logistics in the Marketing team and as podcast coordinator of Logistics With Purpose®.Luisa believes that purpose-driven decisions will impact results that make a difference in the world. Connect with Luisa on LinkedIn.

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Mary Kate Love

VP, Marketing

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys.  She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.

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Vicki White

Controller

Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Greg White

Principal & CMO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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